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The Scarlet Letter Essay

Uploaded by Admin on Jan 22, 1999

"But (Hester) is not the protagonist; the chief actor, and the tragedy of The Scarlet Letter is not her tragedy, but Dimmesdales. He it was whom the sorrows of death encompassed..... His public confession is one of the noblest climaxes of tragic literature." This statement by Randall Stewart does not contain the same ideas that I believed were contained within The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I, on the contrary to Stewart's statement, think Dimmesdale is a coward and a hypocrite. Worse, he is a self-confessed coward and hypocrite. He knows what he has to do to still the voice of his conscience and make his peace with God. Throughout the entire story his confession remains an obstacle . While Hester is a relatively constant character, Dimmesdale is incredibly dynamic. From his fall with Hester, he moves, in steps, toward his public hint of sinning at the end of the novel. He tries to unburden himself of his sin by revealing it to his congregation, but somehow can never quite manage this. He is a typical diagnosis of a "wuss". To some extent, Dimmesdale's story is one of a single man tempted into the depths of the hormonal world. This world, however, is a place where the society treats sexuality with ill grace. But his problem is enormously complicated by the fact of Hester's marriage (for him no technicality), and by his own image of himself as a cleric devoted to higher things. Unlike other young men, Dimmesdale cannot accept his loss of innocence and go on from there. He must struggle futilely to get back to where he was. Torn between the desire to confess and atone the cowardice which holds him back, Dimmesdale goes slightly mad. He takes up some morbid forms of penance-fasts and scourgings-but he can neither whip nor starve the sin from his soul. In his agony, he staggers to the pulpit to confess, but his words come out generalized, and meaningless declarations of guilt. The reverend seems to want to reveal himself, but Chillingworth's influence and his own shame are stronger than his weak conscience. Dimmesdale cannot surrender an identity which brings him the love and admiration of his parishioners. He is far too intent on his earthly image to willingly reveal his sin. Once Hester explains Chillingworth's plans, and thus breaks Chillingworth's spell, Dimmesdale begins to overcome him. He does it, though, in a...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   01/22/1999

Category:   The Scarlet Letter

Length:   5 pages (1,200 words)

Views:   1584

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